His name was James. He planted the blueberry bushes in our yard years ago, when our yard was his yard. I only spoke with him twice.
During our first conversation, he introduced me to this yard I love, the yard he loved. He struggled through the effects of Parkinson’s as we walked the property on a cold January day. His plants were his heart, his love, and he wanted me to know where they slept under the snow. I followed his labored steps, listened and took note of his descriptions and instructions. It was our changing of the guard, James and me.
We sat around a table filled with contracts the second and last time I spoke with James. As we closed on our new home, I received jam and a recipe card from the man. He understood we now held the keys to the structure, the title in our name. I understood the house he once occupied offered more than shelter, was more than property. The gift he gave reminded that much can be cultivated from a bit of tended yard.
A decade goes by quickly. I think of James often, but especially on August mornings when I pick a few berries for my morning oatmeal. I thank God for provision and I thank God for James who is with him now.
I also think of James when long days try to convince me that I am the only one doing all the work, that no one struggles like I do. I know the messages are untrue because every year, his efforts bloom in our garden. Every year, I benefit from his sacrifice.
Still, struggles are hard when we don’t see fruit; work is heavy when the reward lingers. We desire to see results from our effort, enjoy the benefits – now.
The wind blows through the leaves, through the window and I hear another Wind in my spirit blowing a gentle reminder.
“So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.” 1 Corinthians 3:7-9
We all toil; everyone labors. However, God causes growth, gives rewards. Those who plant and water are also the field, God’s field, his building. There is always more happening than my eyes can behold, more to the moments than I can understand. This knowing soothes when hands are weary.
Our God is a Gardener. He loves seeds and sowing and reaping. I cannot forget that growth is coming, growth caused by the Gardener. I must delight in my part, delight in the privilege of participating. The rewards will come. And if we are as fortunate as James, others will benefit from our labor, from our struggle, long after we are home.